Sunday, March 11, 2012

French Empire Revival Style

Arc de Triomphe

all original sketches copyright Dean Farris, 2012

So, I've been researching and reading up on my favorite style for residential architecture lately, since I keep seeing certain empty parcels of property that just beg to have me design a house to sit on them...and I came across the late architect John Elgin Woolf, who worked in Los Angeles in the 1940's through the 1970's. Mr. Woolf is credited with creating a pastiche style, known as "Hollywood Regency" - which predated post modernism and was itself a reaction to the desire for romantic architecture among people who longed to show that they had "made it" in Hollywood. Woolf's 1942 Pendleton commission, is perhaps his most well known, although there are still many examples of his work to be seen. Recently, the museum of UCSB mounted a show of his work along with that of his late partner, Robert Koch Woolf, who was also his adopted son. In 2009, Vanity Fair published an interesting piece - about the private lives and the unusual lifestyle created by Mr. Woolf and his protege's. Here, I show some personal sketches I made, showing my version of a modified French Empire revival raised house - I would use quarry key stone for the foundation level and quoins, and poured stucco for the walls, with a standing seam metal mock mansard roof. The square footage of my sweet little Naples pavilion could vary from a mere 2,000 to about 3,500, and of course there would just have to be a swimming pool out back, since this is south Florida after all.

I found it interesting that after Mr. Woolf passed away (died) his heirs moved into an old Addison Mizner house in Montecito. I had no idea that Mizner had worked in California.
Although my house is not yet built, I've already selected some 19th century french furniture for it from my favorite local source, Cedric Dupont, in West Palm Beach. To be seen in a later post!

You could also see some Woolf creations in back copies of the old Architectural Digest from the 1970's, should you be so inclined. I do hope that my friend John Tackett will see this post and leave a message. I would be interested to hear his opinion of it. DF *****